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Sunday, November 30, 2008

Oilers @ Stars - Jeff Drouin-DesLauriers Starts

The good thing about a big goalie is that he can follow the play from above all the other players' heads. Another good thing about a big goalie is that he can be in the butterfly position and still cover a lot of the net. A bad thing about "dinosaur" goalies is that they have limited mobility. The good thing about Jeff Drouin-DesLauriers? He's not affected by limited mobility.

Lowetide suggests here that one of the goalies could be traded this week of Jeff Drouin-DesLauriers plays well. He probably meant Roloson, but right now I'm not so sure that it's not Garon. People speak about the showcasing aspect of playing Roloson a lot but we'll have to see about that.

Any way we look at it though, its the DesLauriers who stared down the Rangers we want to see today, and not the one who stared down the Leafs. Hopefully, the team can make it a two game winning streak and get some momentum for the home half of the home-and-home with Dallas.

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Saturday, November 29, 2008

Jesus H. Burke goes to Toronto

Welcome to the hockey holy land: this is where legends are made and GMs are crucified.

Welcome back to Canada, Brian Burke. The hottest hotbed of hockey - the Toronto Maple Laughs. Cliff Fletcher has been doing a good job with this team: don't mess it up. And now the clock is ticking... is Brian Burke really as good as everyone says he is? We'll have to wait and see what kind of deals get pulled off. Does he have another draft day Sedin twins surprise up his sleeve? Or is it going end the same as his last days in Vancouver and Anaheim - in shielded disappointment? We'll have to wait and see.

What will his first move be? Acquire Todd Bertuzzi? Sign Scott Neidermeyer out of his next retirement? Acquire Chris Pronger from Anaheim?

Let's take bets.

(I hope the image is not in bad taste. But if we're gonna call him Jesus and all ... more on this on David Staples' page)

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5 guys who would look good in Oiler uniforms

1. Milan Lucic - I've always been a big Nick Tarnasky fan. Nick Tarnasky was recently traded to Florida in return for Wade Belak, an almost-Oiler. But in this photo, the body language tells of the fear felt by Nick Tarnasky when staring down the Serbian-Canadian hockey player Milan Lucic. This kid does it all: score, assist, hit, fight, and scare.

Steve Tambellini, while you're daydreaming about Ilya Kovalchuk, give a thought to Milan Lucic who would certainly get my vote for Pierre McGuire's monster.

2. David Perron - Watching this guy play during the Edmonton-St.Louis game it was apparent this guy knows how to use his teammates effectively. He may not be the most prolific scorer on any team but he would make a good compliment on any given line. He might be a good pick up and compliment on the LW side for Cogliano/Gagner and he would also fit in well with RWs Cole and/or Pisani.

3. Sami Pahlsson - Takes faceoffs, throws big hits, and frustrates the hell out of opponents. He also laid the big hit on Jarret Stoll that gave him that mighty concussion. He's the Esa Tikkanen of the current NHL and we should get him since Sean Avery is unavailable. And it's not impossible that Sean Avery or Sami Pahlsson would play here - when Jesse Boulerice was an Oiler for a game anything is possible.

4. Colin White - A good stay at home D-man would take away from the question marks regarding Ladislav Smid and Denis Grebeshkov. This would make Jason Strudwick expendable and we could focus on getting guys like Jacques and Peckham into the lineup.

5. Georges Laraque - I shouldn't need to explain this one. We all love Big Georges.

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Friday, November 28, 2008

Blame Game

When an individual player does poorly, it's fine to attribute poor performance to individual inability to produce. When the whole team is struggling, there's something else brewing. This whole blame game focusing the attention on the players who are all simultaneously under-performing only peels the skin off the body of the problem. And it makes me sick that Kevin Lowe has to come out and tried to save MacTavish - not by defending his actions - but by shoving off the blame to the players.


Letter to Kevin Lowe (Point Form)

1. It's not Craig MacTavish's fault that we're losing. I'm gonna come right out and say it - it's YOUR fault Kevin Lowe. It's your fault that guys like Kelly Buchberger get promoted and it's your fault that Steve Tambellini doesn't have to the autonomy to make all moves without your O.K. and it's your fault that we're in this 3 goalie mess.

2. The Oilers keep talking about guys being held accountable for their performance. Well, both Garon and Roloson have been playing well, but only Roloson keeps getting starts. What the deuce?

3. A lot of people are calling for Craig MacTavish's firing. I don't agree with that. I think that if he gets fired, you should go too, Kevin. If not, MacT should get the benefit of the doubt til Steve Tambellini fixes this team.

4. The players should be accountable for not scoring? Dude, Penner, Cole, and the kid line have been shuffled around faster than you can say "UNO." That happens on other NHL teams too, you say? Yeah, but other NHL teams aren't missing a 3rd line center, aren't carrying 3 goalies and have guys playing out of position all over the team. This team would still have holes if we took away the injuires to Roy, Jacques, Pisani, and MacIntyre. The fact that they're out only compounds the problem. Having limited roster spots (too many goalies) doesn't help, either.

5. Are Smid and Roy NHL calibre defenseman or not? If not, ship em off Cliff Fletcher style or else make a commitment to them and not sign guys like Strudwick. Or else, someone will end up playing Forward and it will make things really confusing.

6. Garon - sign him or trade him. He's not getting any happier on the bench.

7. Did I mention that this is your fault? Stop hiding upstairs and come down and fix it. Don't take the blame off of MacT and force it onto the players. Deal with it like a man and fix the situation.

That being said, I still admire a lot of the moves Kevin Lowe made in the past few years to keep this team afloat. But this season has been frustrating because nobody seems to do those things anymore - and that's why this team, which is supposed to be better - is performing worse.

It's not who you have on your team - it's what the team is willing to do. Is this a coaching problem? Partly. Is this a personnel problem? You bet.

Personnel = team + administration

Fix it.


Thursday, November 27, 2008

Let's make some moves Stevey

We suggested the other day that there are only two possible reasons why MacTavish wouldn't play Garon instead of Roloson:

  • Garon is on the trade block.

  • MacTavish is an idiot without common sense.

  • Talking to Suneil Parmar of Addicted to Oil, I suggested that we have too many secondary scoring threats, but no primary scoring threats to take the heat off of these support players. A good team is supposed to have both, after all, so they can make the opposition D work twice as hard. It's not happening in Edmonton and we need to make some moves. Furthermore, the line juggling has confused player roles and even a guy like Erik Cole, who is used to seeing 3rd line action and prospering from it, is suffering from MacBlender syndrome through a rotating door of linemates. Worse yet, they expect him to produce when his supporting cast is unsupportive. This is almost as ridiculous as throwing Penner under the bus - wait, that already happened. Seeing as we still have massive holes on this team, along with an inability to move the puck out of our own zone and getting outplayed every game, among other problems, what kind of moves can we make right now that would improve the team? Assuming Garon isn't on the block, what does the rest of the team look like?

    The Jigsaw Puzzle Pieces

    1st line material


    2nd line material

    Cole (iffy categorization, he fits on pretty much all 4 lines, pretty flexible player)
    Moreau (iffy categorization, he fits on pretty much all 4 lines, pretty flexible player)

    3rd line material

    Pisani (injured)

    4th line material


    "Farm Callups"


    The Finished Jigsaw Puzzle (ultimate goal)

  • A well balanced team offensively and defensively that has a determined goaltending rotation of A/B or 1A/1B.

  • Defensive depth.

  • How do we finish off the Oiler Jigsaw?

  • 1. Deal with the goaltending situation.

  • 2. Acquire a 3rd-line centerman who is a PK-specialist and FO-specialist.

  • 3. Deal away a few young D for an experienced D-man who can alternate with Staios, Strudwick, and Souray on the PK.

  • 4. Package off some secondary scoring along with some prospects for primary scoring and extend all players who are in the last year of their contracts.

  • 5. Put pressure on the top 6 by inserting Springfield callups.

  • 1. This could mean dealing one of JDD, Garon, or Roloson.

    In the case of dealing Garon ...

    I would recommend signing Roloson to one more year, just in case we can't find any other help either from Dubnyk, the waiver wire, or off-season UFA. Plus, Roloson's play of-late has shown he has the skills to pay the bills at least for this season, he could be a valuable help to a guy like JDD in the upcoming season.

    In the case of dealing Roloson ...

    I would recommend getting Garon signed to a contract extension ASAP because after this goaltending mismanagement fiasco there's no guarantee he wants to stay in E-town. That being said, 2-3 years max (w/o a NTC), since JDD and Dubnyk are playing well and there's nothing against the potential of them coming up and getting full-time jobs in a year or two.

    2. Our defensive zone coverage sucks. Our PK and FO stats suck.

    The sad thing is that we look like we're playing the PK during even strength situations. That's sad as hell. We need some intensity and some experience injected into this lineup. I would recommend a Mike Peca, Todd Marchant, John Madden, or Sami Pahlsson type of of player.

    3. Injuries and experience are a factor with our defense.

    Mathieu Roy is perpetually injured. Theo Peckham is on the periphery and almost ready to play full time in the big show. Ladislav Smid is always reliable defensively but his role is confusing - somewhere below Strudwick but more valuable than Stortini as a forward. The signing of Strudwick was a good move but it confuses the defensive depth because it puts Smid out of work and keeps guys like Peckham and Young off the team.

    I think it's time to package some young D, maybe Smid and/or Roy, or Bryan Young and get a guy who can play minutes when called upon or to play a supporting role if called upon. We dropped the ball on resigning Jason Smith so we're going to have to look elsewhere since Ottawa needs him and plus he's not getting any younger.

    Anton Volchenkov or Paul Mara, perhaps?

    4. Getting outshot. Almost EVERY game.

    When your leading goal scorer is a defenseman, you know you have a problem.

    We need an Ilya Kovalchuk, Jonathan Cheechoo, Daniel Alfredsson, Alex Semin, Brendan Morrow type of player. Unless Dustin Penner is going to wake up tomorrow and start one-timing everything into the top corner, I suggest Tambellini make this happen and make it happen quick. I don't care if he has to trade half the farm team, just do it.

    We have too many contracts anyway. Something like 48 out of 50.

    5. Sestito is not going to threaten anyone's job except Reddox and Stortini.

    Yeah, this is the Toby Petersen Saga all over again. Craig MacTavish will play whoever shows him the most effort. Though this is a fine and dandy message that he's trying to send to the players, the fact that Tim Sestito is an energy player means that job security is not an issue for the Horcoffs, Penners, Gagners, and Nilssons.

    As mentioned here, I would support a callup of the Schremp, Potulny, or Brule characters off the farm and inserting them into the lineup. Though I would support a Spurgeon callup based on our defensive needs, if Tambellini fails to acquire a Kovalchuk right away (thinking we have enough offense on the team as it is, if he were delusional) then calling up a guy who will challenge your top 6 for their jobs is not a bad idea.

    I wouldn't mind Schremp coming up and outperforming Gagner. That would light a fire under his ass and get him going again.


    Wednesday, November 26, 2008

    Garon on the Trade Block?

    Dwayne Roloson keeps getting starts, even though common sense would indicate that Matheiu Garon should get a chance. Even beyond that, as good as Roloson's performance has been this year, Garon has been (statistically) better in limited ice time for whatever reason. And MacTavish has been slower to yank Roli than he was to yank Garon.

    This leads me to my theory as to why the Oilers aren't giving Garon any starts:

    Perhaps Mathieu Garon is on the trade block.

    This may not be because the Oilers need to deal Garon so much as him being a valuable piece of a bigger deal which will be part of Steve Tambellini's first major deal and the start of his legacy. Perhaps. According to Eklund of hockeybuzz (I know, I know, of all sources to quote...) said that Kevin Pendergast and 2 Oilers scouts were taking in the Atlanta/Toronto game.

    Now, Toronto has been a mover and shaker as of late - but what about Atlanta? Could the Oilers be trying to acquire in Ilya Kovalchuk the finisher that the Oilers could never develop in their farm system? How about local product Bryan Little? Tobias Enstrom? Kari Lehtonen?

    However, if I were to be safter with my estimates, I'd say the Oilers are after one of the Matt Stajan types.

    Or maybe this is all just a gust of hot air - nothing substantial.

    We'll have to wait and see.

    Jean Shorts and Bagged Milk has wrote a piece on the mismanagement of assets, Mathieu Garon being the most recent in a long line of unfortunate victims.

    Go read it.

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    Headshots Pt. II

    I think there is a mighty difference. And an important one too.

    Out of all the headshot videos I've watched in the past two months, not a single once could be considered a "clean hit," not until I finally remembered Dan Cleary.


    Chris Pronger vs. Sheldon Souray

    Oil Droppings: An interesting comp

    Click for more details.

    Remember this, anyone?

    Tuesday, November 25, 2008

    Kings @ Oilers Preview

    Before the L.A. game begins, a few questions:

    How long before ...

  • ... Mathieu Garon makes a first period save?

  • ... Jarret Stoll scores a PP goal from the point?

  • ... MacTavish juggles the lines?

  • ... Matt Greene decks an Oiler?

  • ... Grebeshkov gets caught on a pinch?

  • How many times will ...

  • ... Ladislav Smid look lost playing LW?

  • ... the Oilers win the faceoff?

  • ... Erik Cole get sandwiched on a play?

  • ... Pouliot cough up the puck?

  • ... Matt Greene get beat on the outside?

  • Will the Oilers ...

  • ... let Tim Sestito start the first shift?

  • ... keep Liam Reddox in the lineup?

  • ... spend too much time passing on the PP?

  • ... get a crazy one man play from Ales Hemsky?

  • ... score on a Sheldon Souray point shot?

  • ... WIN?
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    Monday, November 24, 2008

    Predictions until Christmas

    Predictions for a Good Stretch:

    Who on the Oilers roster will play the best hockey from now in mid-November until the Christmas break?

  • Whether or not the Kid Line stays together, I would bank on at least 2/3 of the components (Gagner/Cogliano, Nilsson/Cogliano, etc.) will have a good stretch based on their ability to play on almost any line. This will be important because now that MacT is going back to more "traditional" lineups this will either mean the Kid line will be reunited for good; or should the experiment fail, split up for good.

  • Should he be given the chance to stay in the lineup, Liam Reddox will stick around and play the GlenX role that we haven't seen filled since his departure, Torres' crazy knee injury, and the loss of guys PK guys like Radek Dvorak. Guys like Reddox are just too useful to a hockey team should injuries occur and I thin he has the edge over both Tim Sestito and Ladislav Smid, who will eventually find himself back on the blueline.

  • Steve Staios will play an important stretch of defensively sound hockey as the team's other D-men will start to push and pinch in order to try to get the offense to propel this team into playoff contention. This is markedly important considering the home crowd and the re-emergence of Mathieu Garon - somebody needs to play D and whether his partner is Strudwick or Smid is irrelevant.

  • Mathieu Garon - simply put, it's his time to take his crease back

  • Dustin Penner will have a renaissance on the 1st line whereas Erik Cole will continue to struggle with 3rd line obscurity. He's not unfamiliar with the role but for some reason he's awkward playing with Moreau and Pouliot. Too similar to Ethan Moreau, perhaps?

  • I would also predict the most likely of my predictions to be wrong is the Dustin Penner/Erik Cole one. We'll have to wait and see.


    Sunday, November 23, 2008

    Jesse Boulerice Out - Tim Sestito In

    Tim Sestito recalled from the Springfield Falcons. He is seen here as a member of the Stockton Thunder stick-checking some guy who is protecting the puck along the halfboards.

    Here are his stats:

    2007-2008 77 GP 7 G 10 A 17 PTS -25 175 PIM
    2008-2009 16 GP 2 G 1 A 3 PTS -1 6 PIM

    Now I know the +/- statistic is usually frowned upon as useless. But -25 is an alarming number by an rate. Good thing he's been on pace for a much better overall performance as Captain of the Oilers farm squad. Lowetide was suggesting that they called up Sestito as a MacTavish/Buchberger kind of player but I think that's not a good enough reason if that's the one that led them to this decision.

    Another consideration is that the Oilers may be trying to keep the Springfield "core players" as intact as possible, "maximizing the competitiveness" of both teams. I'm not agreeing with this consideration, though I think it's a possibility.

    The team has needs to address and I think Tyler Spurgeon would have been a better call up at this point in time.

    We'll have to wait and see.

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    Goaltending Prospects + Garon/Roloson

    Oilers prospects update here, here and here.

    Suneil Parmar ran some stats on the league vs. Oilers goaltending stats here.

    Devan Dubnyk (not shown) is finally starting to round out in the AHL and is showing the same turnaround that DesLauriers did in his debut as Falcons #1 goalie - arguably better, thus far. Having our own farm team really helps.

    Will Mathieu Garon extend? If so, I think 2 years will be ideal. One season to gauge his usefulness as a tutor or protector of DesLauriers, and one season to evaluate whether DesLauriers is ready for full time action with Garon, Dubnyk or someone else as backup. If not, further extension or looking for goaltending help from elsewhere at that time will be options. Locking down goaltenders to super long deals is not such a great idea in a league such as our NHL - given the nature of their injuries and their fluctuations in performance.

    There is talk among fans that Garon will be peeved over this latest goaltending fiasco and will want out of Edmonton. Who knows? He's still in his prime and he could be a valuable asset for Edmonton. But anything longer than 3 year deal in any subsequent extension could end up being in the range of the "how-will-we-trade-him-now" situation experienced with Roloson due to his fluctuating degrees of usefulness to the team.

    I'm starting to think it's not impossible to see the Oilers move forward without either Roloson or Garon and pick up a temporary goalie until DesLauriers or Dubnyk are ready to step in for themselves. Either that or Garon will be resigned but to a shorter term deal than most people feel he will be extended for.

    Yes, Roloson is old. And yes, he can't play forever. But his performance has shown that he's still got it and that's not something anyone can deny easily.

    The truth is though, neither Roloson or Garon is getting younger and at least one of them will eventually get the heeve-ho this season. And not because they're playing poorly, by any measure. It may be because Tambellini/Lowe are slowpokes at these kinds of matters and the fact that all of the goalies are playing so well that is making this decision even harder.

    Speaking of goaltenders, after DesLauriers and Dubnyk have both made their debuts into the NHL (of course DesLauriers has that impressive head start), it could mean that the Oilers will soon draft some competition for Pitton and Perugini on the farms.

    I would suggest drafting Jonathan Roy or Mike Lee.

    Here's Dean Millard's description of Mike Lee:

    Mike Lee-Fargo-USHL
    The only goalie from the US version of Junior A, Lee was brilliant for team USA at the World Junior A Challenge in Camrose earlier this month. He was 4-0, with a minuscule 1.75 goals against average and a .933 save percentage. Lee used his 6.01, 185 pound frame well and bailed out his D-man anytime they got in trouble. While Canada West didn't mount a massive attack in the gold medal game, Lee was there at key times to snuff out any momentum. Lee follows the puck through traffic really well and for his efforts was named a tournament all star.

    I don't know about you, but that sounds a lot like Dwayne Roloson, that traffic part. And critical of Roloson you may be, but that is one of the things he does do very well.

    As for Jonathan Roy, I would argue anybody who was raised in the mold of Patrick himself has more of a good foundation in goaltending than most people do, though it doesn't guarantee that he'll be any good. It would help to get a guy like Patrick Roy involved in the organization though - and say what you will about his role on the Remparts and his reputation as a blockhead.

    Genius is genius.

    But regardless of the elder Roy's reputation and the younger's own as a ruffian, if it came down to picking between two skilled goalies and one of them fights while the other doesn't - I would take the figher. A competitive fire is hard to develop. Just ask Ron Hextall.

    Fire is fire.

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    Thursday, November 20, 2008

    Too Little Too Late - Red Wings Hold Off Oilers in Win

    This is an image from this website which sells sports merchandise. It's Bobby Orr's famous "DIVE." Kris Draper dives too, but that's because knows a thing about drawing penalties dishonestly. Bobby Orr would frown on you, Draper.

    The exaggeration from Samuelsson and Draper, combined with the officiating at tonight's game whioch was plain atrocious, made for a gong-show, phantom penalty filled afair. Most of the Oilers actually played really well tonight except for M.A. Pouliot. Best Oilers tonight were Souray, Hemsky and Staios. I was at the game courtesy of Suneil Parmar of Addicted to Oil. David Staples was there, and so was Danny On, Jermine Paglicauan, and Travis Yano (alphabetically).


    Suneil Parmar, David Staples, and myself all agreed right before the game that Roloson would not play well and it was Garon's turn in net. It took a while, but our prediction came true. The long-established rules of (1) don't give the same team two consecutive looks at the same goalie and (2) don't play Roloson more than 3 or 4 games in a row were not dutily followed by MacTavish. Not that we doubt Roli or anything. But common sense would indicate that Garon should've got the start.

    The story of the game was that the officiating was horrendous. Phantom calls were made everywhere and calls that should've been made weren't. And don't tell me there were 7 penalties for each team - just because the numbers are even doesn't make the officiating fair. Save that for the NFL.

    Here's a quick summary of the officiating B.S. tonight:

  • Stuart cross-checking on the back of someone's head NOT CALLED

  • Detroit D-man boarding on Hemsky NOT CALLED

  • Penner's "slash" on the Detroit D-man's hockey stick nowhere near his hands, gloves, or body, which resulted in Penner's stick exploding and not the opponents CALLED SLASHING

  • Draper holding the stick on Reddox CALLED HOOKING

  • Draper interfering with Moreau and holding him down away from the play CALLED ROUGHING

  • Not to mention the Oilers had bad luck tonight. Dump-ins were hitting linesmen. The puck had two bad careems off the boards - one that barely missed the Detroit net and one that ended up right on an open Hudler's stick for a goal.

    Roloson had 7 saves and despite the poor save percentage had no chance on some of the goals. Not to mention the wicked glove save he made through traffic despite being screened.

    The Oilers need to MOVE GUYS OUT FROM IN FRONT OF THE NET. Yes, I'm talking to you Strudwick. First the Samuelsson goal on Monday and now the Kopecky goals tonight.

    The Oilers have a bad habit of being too nonexistant on penalty kills. I know MacT and Huddy have the "let them pass it around the perimeter" strategy going strong on most nights, but it's simple hockey to get into passing lanes and to not let guys get set up in front of your net. Even if you let them stand there, it should just be the illusion of a passing lane.

    Watch the Detroit PK and learn.

    Another thing is that Detroit is really good at staying on-side. It's not something that involved great skill to do. After you pass it to a guy trailing the play (because you're getting forechecked in the neutral zone) skate laterally and stay behind the blue line until the puck crosses the line. The little twirl the Oilers do near the blue line actually puts us off-side more often than not.

    Ryan Smyth was good at this: he'd pass it off, skate parallel to the blue line, then turn and crash the net hard after the puck gained the zone. This way, he could keep his speed but stay on-side at the same time.

    It was a particularly good perforance from Hemsky and Souray, but they too had some bad plays during the game.

    Souray lets too many guys skate around him on icing plays and without communication to Gilbert allowed an icing call to be beat by a forechecking Detroit player. He needs to be aware of the guys coming down the wing behind him and communicate with Gilbert.

    Hemsky, during the extended powerplay late in the third, had a chance to dump it deep and make a safe play. I understand that the Oilers had come storming back and he was feeling it, I suppose. But that was a poor decision trying to dangle the puck through 3 Detroit Red Wing sweaters. He did make Niklas Lidstrom look foolish a couple of times though.

    Another thing: turnovers. The Oilers need to simplify their game. For a team that can barely get out of their own zone the last thing they need to do is make cute passes to nobody and turn it over to the Detroit Red Wings - of all teams.

    Simple rules for dumping the puck into the opposition zone not being carried out by the team:
    (1) no puck support: dump it into an empty corner where there aren't any players
    (2) with puck support: dump it into an area where your supporting man can fight for the puck and then support him back the way he supported your puck dump by getting open or trailing him along the boards

    In neither case should the puck go straight to the opposition D-man. This happened several times tonight. And when we dump and chase, there is little to no puck support. How is a cycle supposed to start up with everyone along the same half boards? We need the team to start helping their fellow teammates out.

    When the puck goes straight to the opposition D the puck comes back the other way instantly and your man gets caught chasing a puck dump that doesn't exist.

    Simple rules for dumping the puck out of the defensive zone not being carried out by the team:
    (1) do not ram it around the boards with a man pinching on the point (Reddox is particularly good at following this rule)
    (2) do not pass it up the middle in front of the net out of your zone
    (3) do not make a cute backhand pass towards the middle high slot when on the half boards

    These simple turnovers can kill any team's momentum, especially in your own zone.

    Simple rules for playing on powerplays not being carried out by the team:
    (1) cycling the puck down low works - cycling the puck when there are opposition guys along the boards doesn't
    (2) do not pass it back to the point when the D-man is getting hounded by a backchecker (Penner needs to be aware of this)
    (3) (if you're not Souray or Visnovsky) shoot the puck low so that there are more rebounds

    These are all simple things that I thought everyone who watched hockey knew. But Horcoff, Gagner and Nilsson, though they played decent games, did not execute simple plays when the opportunity presented itself. They choose to do little spins and cycle it forever until the Red Wings cleared their zone.

    The Red Wings are so fearless of the Oilers forecheck and backcheck that even Hossa tried to lay a big hit on Brodziak. They are that unconcerned about their defensive zone coverage.

    Props to the Oilers for making it close against the defending cup champs. But "too little too late" is a tune that gets old fast. It's time to start coming through on games where you need to make a statement as a team.


    Pictured above are Suneil Parmar and David Staples. I was surprised too when I found out in real life they were really Zdeno Chara and Chuck Norris, respectively. Who woulda thought.

    Keep it a secret between you and me, though.

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    Red Wings @ Oilers Preview; Smid on LW

    This is Steve Staios as a Vancouver Canuck. He is seen playing RW here. The Oilers will be hosting the Red Wings tonight. Full preview here and here.


    Besides Strudwick, Staios' main D-partner has been Ladislav Smid, who happens to be playing on LW tonight against the Red Wings. Out of all the D-men, Staios has the most experience at the F-position. MacBlender has played with the D-man @ F-position idea before, suggesting Souray and Staios among others.

    And he has played them there before. Staios (RW/D) a few times. MacIntyre (LW/D) the entire time.

    Smid is among the defenseman more prone to rush the puck and keep it in the opposition zone. He hasn't done it often enough to get consistent results from doing it, but we will see what chemistry he has with it tonight. According to the Oilers web site, he hasn't done it since he was in grade 3. Not along history of success.

    Now, the Oilers ripped up the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday with 7 goals on 19 shots. The Red Wings will most certainly outshoot the Oilers in much the same fashion as on Monday and as the Blue Jackets did on Tuesday and one wonders what kind of affect this will have on the team chemistry by moving Smid up.

    There is also the possibility that the Columbus win was a fluke, considering Leclaire just returned from a high ankle sprain. But the Oilers have a chance tonight to (A) prove it wasn't a fluke and (B) get redemption for the Conklin shutout loss.

    Here is the perceived lineup from comments on the Oilers web site:


    (with short instances of 37-71 and 77-44)

    Dwayne Roloson *starts
    Mathieu Garon

    Liam Reddox is a healthy scratch. Which makes me wonder why he isn't playing on the wing instead of Smid, but I guess MacT thinks Smid brings more spunk than Reddox. Whether that spunk will be useful, we will see.

    Expect Penner to have a huge game.

    I will be Live with hockey master-statistician Suneil Parmar of Addicted to Oil and we might meet up with hockey journalist-philosopher David Staples of Cult of Hockey.

    See you there.


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    Wednesday, November 19, 2008

    Goaltending, Getting Outshot, and "Scoring at Will"

    Since last season (even before the shoulder injury), Shawn Horcoff has found a new home on the right side faceoff circle where he one-times everything Ales Hemsky throws at him. And apparently, he's pretty good at it.

    It's mid-November and by now we're familiar with the fact that the Oilers get outshot in most games. Our goaltending has not been a problem this season thus far but the goaltending rotation has been - with 3 guys raring to prove their worth to the organization and each having played well and played poorly in separate stretches.

    Will Garon start against Detroit in the rematch? Roloson has been playing well as of late and he will undoubtedly want a chance at redemption but traditionally when you play a team twice in a short time span you alternate goaltenders.

    But now I must pose the question of whether getting outshot all the time is a "good thing" for the Edmonton Oilers, or whether its a "bad thing."

    Good goaltending and timely goals
    Good goaltending and scoring at will

    Edmonton @ Columbus - 11/18/08 w/ 7-2 WIN
    The Oilers handed the Blue Jackets their own livers on a plate yesterday night when they beat them 7-2. Regardless, we were outshot 39-19 in this game - a total of 20 shots difference. This is an example where we simply outscored the opponent and featured superior goaltending. Penner was unleashed and the rest of the team including Pouliot and Gilbert came around and played great hockey.

    Colorado @ Edmonton
    - 10/12/08 w/ 3-2 WIN
    This game was considerably closer and the Oilers beat the season opener against the AVs with a heckuva performance from Penner. Garon played great in this game and simply kept the Oilers in it, being outshot 33-19. The secondary scoring was not around in this game, as Penner and Garon singlehandedly won this game.

    Edmonton @ Detroit - 11/17/08 w/ 4-0 LOSS
    The Oilers were outshot 41-21 - a total of 20 shots difference, in this game against the Red Wings, the night before the Columbus game. Except in this version, they don't score 7 goals - in fact, they don't manage one. Perhaps getting shut out by Conklin was enough, or whether the ass-whooping itself was enough to let set the team free. Who knows. The fact is that Roloson was hung out to dry against the defending champs in this game.

    Two other links:




  • The Edmonton Oilers are outshot in most games

  • The Edmonton Oilers play better when Dustin Penner has a good game

  • The Edmonton Oilers have good goaltending (given consistency as a prerequisite to personal success)

  • The Edmonton Oilers cannot afford to allow the Detroit Red Wings the space to outshoot them by 20 or more

  • Good goaltending doesn't always win games

  • That being said, there is still no answer as to whether the Oilers have been scoring timely goals or whether they are starting to finally "score at will." The next game against the Detroit Red Wings and subsequent games, whether or not we outshoot or get outshot by our opponents, will determine the answer.

    Let's hope that this Columbus game is a sign of things to come.


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    Tuesday, November 18, 2008

    Will the Real Edmonton Oilers Please Stand Up: Win 7-2 Despite Being Outshot 39-19

    Holy Smokes. The Oilers finally woke up. And in fine fashion, I might add.

    I didn't watch this one because I was in class, but from what I hear, here's what happened:

  • Hemsky was a force all night

  • Penner was creating chances everywhere: drawing penalties, banging bodies, crashing the net, sniping wristshots...

  • Pouliot played like an NHL player, not an AHL callup - perhaps he is the guy who played with Sidney Crosby in Rimouski after all

  • Roloson was outstanding

  • Souray and Visnovsky played like the top pairing once again

  • Gagner played much better

  • Reddox continues to impress

  • I hope to acquire a copy of that game so that I can watch it for myself.

    I have a few worries though. The Oilers were outshot 39-19. Horcoff said in the post game interview that the score didn't reflect how close the game was. Playing the devil's advocate, this could be the result of a few things:

  • A. Pascal LeClaire's ankle not being fully healed

  • B. The Oilers' superior offense

  • C. The Oilers' superior defense

  • D. The Oilers' superior goaltending

  • E. Luck

  • F. MacBlender finding the right chemistry, finally

  • G. The team waking up realising they had been shut out by Ty Conklin, of all people...

  • H. Unleashing the Penner within

  • I. Some combination of the things above

  • I know it reads a lot like a goddamn multiple choice exam, but I pray to God the answer is I and the combination is B,C,D,F,H, though if G is included it would help us get revenge against the Red Wings Thursday night at Rexall Place.

    Maybe they woke up and realised that the loss of Fernando Pisani meant that the team would have to start putting in a group effort. Who knows.

    There is doubt and rightfully so that we can win every game being outshot by 20 or more. Not every goalie not named LeClaire will give up 7 goals on 19 shots, unless the Oilers dynasty was revived tonight. Look to the Oilers putting the pedal to the metal against the Red Wings Thursday.

    I will be in attendance with Suneil Parmar of Addicted to Oil and we will cheer on the Oilers from home ice. See you there hockey fans.

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    Oilers @ Blue Jackets; Pisani Injured

    This man cannot be allowed back into the playoffs. Simply no way we can allow that unless he dons an Oiler jersey. Tambellini, make it happen.

    Watch out for Torres tonight, again. Dustin Penner draws into the lineup but Garon stays out in favour of Roloson.


    Fernando Pisani injured. Broken ankle. Bad news for the Oil.

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    Who will walk the plank? One for all, and all for one...

    Assessment of the Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish Era


    (1) The Oilers are struggling mightily despite officially arriving at the “Big Market” stage with the purchase by Daryl Katz

    (2) The Oilers lack of chemistry or team identity has been blamed on Craig MacTavish

    (3) Dustin Penner is not really as bad as MacT says he is, but the rest of the team is not as good as everyone says they are (with the exception of Hemsky, Souray, and Moreau) and certainly not as good as MacT said they were.


    Kevin Lowe and to some degree Steve Tambellini share some of the blame that has been heaped on Craig MacTavish.

    The explanation…

    Before I get started, let’s get the facts straight:

    1) The average tenure for an NHL coach in the modern day is 3.4 years or 2.0 years depending on your source (I have two different sources below that give these two numbers).

    2) GMs are always safer than coaches in the firing game.

    3) Lindy Ruff has the longest current tenure with a single NHL team entering his 11th year (1997), and Barry Trotz enters his 10th season, for the Buffalo Sabres and Nashville Predators, respectively.

    4) Buffalo made the playoffs 6 out of 10 seasons (not counting 2008-2009) with 1 cup final in 1999 and 3 conference final appearences; Nashville made the playoffs 4 out of 10 seasons (not counting 2008-2009).

    5) When Kevin Lowe became GM in 2001, Craig MacTavish has been head coach and is entering his 8th season with the Edmonton Oilers and made the playoffs 3 out of 7 seasons (not counting 2008-2009) with 1 cup final in 2006.

    6) Ruff, Trotz, and MacTavish averaged 91.7, 83.78, and 88.57 points in the standings (not counting 2008-2009), respectively.

    7) 2007-08 Off-Season: Craig MacTavish says "I want Reasoner back for sure" and Kevin Lowe says "we have a lot of bodies right now so we have to see what unfolds."

    8) Both Jarret Stoll and Lubomir Visnovsky have big point shots on the PP; Stoll is right-handed, and Visnovsky is left-handed; Stoll can play center – Visnovsky cannot.

    9) According to Behind the Net statistics, Penner is best suited for 1st line and PP duty, so any extra skills will have to be learned (pointed out by Bruce on Lowetide’s comment section).

    10) Tambellini has been in office since July 31, 2008 and so far he’s acquired 2 tough guys in 3 months of work.

    Implications that the facts have:

    1) Most coaches are hired for immediate success, unless you are starting with a blank slate (expansion Nashville) or you are new to the game (Lowe-MacTavish 2000-2002). That being said, sometimes it's time for the coach to pack the bags - and sometimes, it's not.

    2) If anyone gets fired, it’s Craig MacTavish and not Kevin Lowe. Not entirely fair, but that’s how the business works.

    3) Lindy Ruff and Barry Trotz, in terms of coaching tenure, are the closest comparables to Craig MacTavish.

    4) Statistically, MacTavish fits in somehere between Ruff and Trotz, though both of them have had more playoff success than him.

    5) Kevin Lowe and Craig MacTavish are from the “Old Boys Club” that won the cup together in Edmonton and in New York. They played together, and now they work together.

    6) MacTavish has generally been able to put together competitive teams in the both the pre-lockout and post-lockout eras. However, he has never done poorly enough to get a top 5 draft pick and has never done better than 8th place in the standings. So basically, he’s only proven so far that he has an 8th place ceiling in terms of regular season performance (we’ll ignore the 2005-06 playoff run take for granted that all playoff teams have roughly equal chances to win, though they generally don’t).

    7) Kevin Lowe is not always willing to do what’s best for his good buddy.

    8) Jarret Stoll is a double-edged sword: kills penalties, plays the point on the PP, and is a reliable defensive center on the 2nd or 3rd lines. Visnovsky may be all that and a bag of chips on the point during the man advantage, but he has performed poorly without Sheldon Souray so far this season.

    9) Penner is a complementary player that fits on the top 2 lines. Penner’s closest comparable in terms of position, salary, point production, and playing style is Scott Hartnell. Hartnell though, is a bit edgier, consistent, and contributes on any line he plays. Now Penner scored 2 goals on the 3rd line to start the season but with him playing a checking role the team has consistently been outplayed. I think it’s fair to say that defensive awareness must be taught – and Penner may be okay on the +/- but there’s nothing to suggest he’s a better fit at 3rd line than Erik Cole – who awoke the moment he was placed on the 3rd line against the Vancouver Canucks.
    Bottom line: Penner needs to learn to play edgier, and the Oilers need to play him (for now) on the top 2 lines. Surprisingly, this is a common criticism of Rob Schremp in that he can’t fill the checking role that a Liam Reddox, for example, can fill.

    10) Steve Tambellini picks up where Kevin Lowe left off – a team of more holes than the off-season hype allowed people to see and more hype than can be helped in 3 months. So that much I can agree with: Tambellini needs some time to leave his mark on the team. But 3 months is a lot of time considering what Lowe did in the 1st 20 minutes of sitting in his GM chair.

    List of Major Lowe/Tambellini Transactions By Year:

    • 1999-00 Off-Season: Roman Hamrlik for Eric Brewer, Josh Green, 2nd rnd pick (Brad Winchester); Alexei Mikhnov; Brad Winchester; Matthew Lombardi; Scott Ferguson; Domenic Pittis;
    • 2000-01 Season: Bill Guerin for Anson Carter, 1st rnd pick, 2nd rnd pick; Chad Kilger for Sergei Zholtok; Dan Lacouture for Sven Butenschon
    • 2000-01 Off-Season: Doug Weight, Michel Riesen for Hecht, Reasoner, Horacek; Steve Staios; Ales Hemsky; Doug Lynch; Jussi Markkanen; Ales Pisa; Kari Haakana
    • 2001-02 Season: Brown for Allen; Murray, Poti for York, 4th rnd pick (Koltsov)
    • 2001-02 Off-Season: Jochen Hecht for 2nd rnd pick (Jeff DesLauriers), 2nd rnd pick (Jarret Stoll); 3rd rnd pick (Potulny) for Dopita; 1st rnd pick (Christopher Higgins) for 1st rnd pick (Jesse Niinimaki), 8th rnd pick (Tomas Micka); Jesse Niinimaki; Jeff DesLauriers; Jarret Stoll; Matt Greene; Mikko Luoma; Glenn Fisher; Dwight Helminen
    • 2002-03 Season: Mike Grier for 2nd rnd pick (Tunik), 3rd rnd pick (Zack Stortini); Josh Green for (a bag of pucks)?; Janne Niinimaa, 2nd rnd pick (Tunik) for Brad Isbister, Raffi Torres; Anson Carter, Ales Pisa for Radek Dvorak, Cory Cross
    • 2002-03 Off-Season: 1st rnd pick (Zach Parise) for 1st rnd pick (Marc Pouliot), 2nd rnd pick (Jean-Francois Jacques); Jussi Markkanen, 4th rnd pick (Kukumberg) for Brian Leetch (so basically a bag of pucks…); Marc Pouliot; Colin McDonald; Jean-Francois Jacques; Zack Stortini; David Rohlfs; Dragan Umicevic; Kyle Brodziak; Mathieu Roy; Josef Hrabal; Stephen Valiquette; Jamie Wright; Igor Ulanov; Adam Oates
    • 2003-04 Season: Mike Comrie for Jeff Woywitka, 1st rnd pick (Rob Schremp), 3rd rnd pick (Danny Syvret); Peter Sarno for Tyler Moss; Stephen Valiquette, Dwight Helminen, 2nd rnd pick (Byers) for Petr Nedved, Jussi Markkanen; Tommy Salo for Tom Gilbert
    • 2003-04 Off-Season: Toby Petersen; Todd Harvey; Devan Dubnyk; Rob Schremp; Liam Reddox; Bryan Young; Tyler Spurgeon
    • 2004-05 Season (Lockout Season): Jason Chimera, 3rd rnd pick (Ryan) for 2nd rnd pick (Geoff Paukovich), 4th rnd pick (Liam Reddox)
    • 2004-05 Off-Season: Eric Brewer, Doug Lynch, Jeff Woywitka for Chris Pronger; Mike York, 4th rnd pick (Montgomery) for Mike Peca; Brad Isbister for 4th rnd pick (Delory); 4th rnd pick (Delory) for Yan Stastny; Andrew Cogliano; Taylor Chorney; Danny Syvret; Robby Dee; Chris Vande Velde; Vyachslav Trukhno
    • 2005-06 Season: Alexei Semenov for 5th rnd pick (Bryan Pitton); Jani Rita, Cory Cross for Dick Tarnstrom; Tony Salmelainen for Jaroslav Spacek; 1st rnd pick (Lewis), 3rd rnd pick (Machachek) for Dwayne Roloson; Marty Reasoner, Yan Stastny, 2nd rnd pick (Milan Lucic) for Sergei Samsonov; Rem Murray
    • 2005-06 Off-Season: Chris Pronger for Joffrey Lupul, Ladislav Smid, 1st rnd pick (Ross), 1st rnd pick (Jordan Eberle); 4th rnd pick (Forney), 7th rnd pick (Kulda) for 3rd rnd pick (Theo Peckham); 7th rnd pick (Eno) for Jan Hejda; Marty Reasoner; Daniel Tjarnqvist; Petr Sykora; Jeff Petry; Theo Peckham; Bryan Pitton; Cody Wild; Alexander Bumagin
    • 2006-07 Season: Ryan Smyth for Robert Nilsson, Ryan O’Marra, 1st rnd pick (Alex Plante); Marc-Andre Bergeron, 3rd rnd pick (Kirill Petrov) for Denis Grebeshkov; Petr Nedved
    • 2006-07 Off-Season: Jason Smith, Joffrey Lupul for Geoff Sanderson, Joni Pitkanen, 3rd rnd pick (2009); 1st rnd pick (Ross), 2nd rnd pick (Gistedt) for 1st rnd pick (Riley Nash); Sam Gagner; Alex Plante; Riley Nash; Linus Omark; Milan Kytnar; William Quist; Mathieu Garon; Sheldon Souray; Dustin Penner
    • 2007-08 Season: Dick Tarnstrom for Curtis Glencross
    • 2007-08 Off-Season: Jarret Stoll, Matt Greene for Lubomir Visnovsky; Joni Pitkanen for Erik Cole; Danny Syvret for Ryan Potulny; Raffi Torres for Gilbert Brule; Jason Strudwick; Carl Corazzini; Andrew Perugini; Jordan Eberle; Johan Motin; Philippe Cornet; Teemu Hartikainen; Jordan Bendfeld
    • 2008-09 Season: Steve MacIntyre; Jesse Boulerice

    Many have pinned the bad Oilers start (though in actuality, we stumbled into a miraculous 4-0 start) to the season on Craig MacTavish.

    But I wonder if the fault is entirely his.

    We’ve heard the old adages: the coach needs to get the most out of his players. The coach needs to find a way to find chemistry. The coach needs to figure out his goaltenders and give them confidence and make sure they can play up to the competition. They say the team’s identity is the coach’s identity. The team and the coach are one, some say. So, if the team has no identity and no chemistry, the fault is all the coach's to bear.

    Bullocks to that, I say.

    Whose fault is it that the Oilers are rotating 3 goalies?

    Whose fault is it that Pisani was our best option at center because nobody else could prove to win a faceoff better than a 2.5 million dollar checking line RW?

    Craig MacTavish only had 3 other options other than Fernando Pisani: Andrew Cogliano, Marc-Antoine Pouliot, and Kyle Brodziak. All 3 are young centerman and none of them are cut out of the same cloth as a Mike Peca, Todd Marchant, Sami Pahlsson, Kris Draper – seasoned veterans who know how to annoy the other team and keep the puck out of their own zone. The Oilers lost both Stoll and Reasoner over the off-season and replaced them with – nothing.

    To this day we still have no 3rd line centerman.

    To this day we still have 3 goaltenders.

    To this day Ladislav Smid and Mathieu Roy are kicking around with semi-concussions and both Steve Staios and Jason Strudwick have come back from very short and shady injury breaks (which may suggest they are playing hurt). One of Smid or Roy have to be traded and another veteran D-man must be brought in (not that the Oilers blogosphere needs more armchair GMs like me anyway).

    Theo Peckham played admirably when called up, but he showed what can happen when he’s put on the ice with Crosby and Satan. Simply put, he’s ready to be groomed for duty – not to fill in the veteran D who are supposed to be pulling their weight on the back end.

    Consider this – Souray and Visnovsky are our top D pairing. Souray has unquestionably been the more solid of the two, and along with Strudwick and Staios, are the defensive cornerstones of this team. Strudwick was brought in to supplement this team.

    Where’s the reinforcements? Has Kevin Lowe or Steve Tambellini addressed the team’s most dire needs?


    Oh I forgot… we have near to 50 contracts (mostly on the farm teams, some committed to guys like Andrew Perugini who could’ve played for us without a contract, as per Glenn Fisher) and can’t afford to sign any free agents without dealing away some roster spots first. How unfortunate.

    Now some may argue that Steve Tambellini has already proved more active than Kevin Lowe was in the 2007-08 season but consider also that I never included any transactions that included “tough guys” until 2008-09. I skipped over Rocky Thompson and Ryan Flinn, among others. Why? As much as everyone loves Steve “Big Mac” MacIntyre, the ability to acquire Boulerice to fill his roll has shown how easy his role can be filled. Not that doing his job is easy by any means, but he is definitely not a major cog in the machine. So can Lowe and Tambellini be fairly blamed for not making any moves or acquisitions thus far in his short GM career?


    Kevin Lowe acquired another left-handed PP point specialist for some phantom reason (no offense to Lubomir Visnovsky but he hasn’t exactly lifted our PP out of the basement and our PK stats ventured into the basement without Matt Greene around). He also acquired RW Erik Cole when we already had Hemsky, Gagner (C playing RW) and Fernando Pisani.

    Why, have you people all forgotten how you were calling for Craig MacTavish to play Erik Cole on the 1st line to start the season – neglecting the fact that the 1st line RW spot belonged to Ales Hemsky and not to Erik Cole? Craig MacTavish presumably folded under the pressure of his superiors (Katz, Lowe) and to us, the fans – and put Penner on the RW and Cole on the LW. How else could he fit him on the 1st line? How come he could only move these two around?

    Because everyone was wetting their pants over the “Kid Line” and how badly they wanted to keep them together to start the season – that’s why. Some pundits called for the “Kid Line” to get split up – I was one of them and many others did too. Going back to the interviews by the Oilers admin and of course this includes Craig MacTavish – the general attitude was that they expected that the “Kid Line” would keep up their production from the previous year and all would be fine and dandy.

    That was not the case and the team is in dire straits. Kevin Lowe has left his coach out to dry by not acquiring a 3rd line centerman and by not dealing with the goaltender and defense situations. Better yet, why didn’t he make an attempt to keep the assets he already had in Curtis Glencross and Marty Reasoner? Whatever, bygones are bygones.

    But this team is no longer Kevin Lowe’s (or is it?) and it is Steve Tambellini’s. Barring the scenario where this whole Tambellini-is-GM-but-Lowe-yanks-my-chain turns out to being Steve Tambellini acting as the puppet GM running errands at the whim of Kevin Lowe – it is his job to acquire all the right pieces for Craig MacTavish.

    The arguments against Craig MacTavish include his:

    1) Inability to find consistent regular season success in order to make the playoffs

    2) Inability to succeed in both the PK and PP during the same season

    3) Tendency to hurt goaltender confidence with his goaltender rotation debacles (Salo, Conklin, Morrison, Garon…)

    4) Inability to keep successful offensive coaches long-term (Craig Simpson, Rob Daum) and has instead seen Kelly Buchberger promoted. Whether this is Lowe or MacTavish who recommended this is still questionable.

    5) His MacBlender style is infamous.

    Seriously. Why is Kelly Buchberger getting promoted for coaching a lackluster Springfield Falcons team and a losing record? Where have we heard something as ridiculous as that before? Oh right, Kevin Lowe getting promoted to President of Hockey Operations for only-God-knows what-the-fuck he did to deserve a raise and promotion. Craig MacTavish is getting a heap of crap for making-do with a team full of holes, and Buchberger and Lowe are getting promoted for things they didn't even do right.

    You know what is one of the most telling signs that Steve Tambellini gets no power between Kevin Lowe and Kevin Pendergast? They decided to leave him out of the “Power Triangle” that defines their power sharing. He’s on the “Coaches and Management” page, though. According to the “Power Triangle,” Pendergast is directly accountable to Lowe, who is directly accountable to Patrick LaForge, and then to Katz himself. Steve Tambellini is nowhere in this equation. Could be a simple mistake… but what kind of a hockey team forgets to list its own goddamn GENERAL MANAGER on the management page?

    This administrative structure just reeks of inefficiency and I can hardly say I can entirely blame Craig MacTavish.

    Kevin Lowe’s most active years on the trade front also coincide with the years that Craig MacTavish has found the most regular season and playoff success, though he only made it past the 1st round that one Cinderella story year.

    This also indicates that Lowe’s inability to make changes to the roster has directly coincided with MacTavish’s inability to deliver on the coaching front.

    This can mean a few things:

    1) Craig MacTavish is the only one who is inept at his job because he can’t work magic with the pieces of the puzzle he’s been given (if you are of the opinion we have all the “right parts” to succeed with the current team) and that the 3-goalie rotation is entirely his fault because he didn’t give Garon the confidence to succeed by playing him in many consecutive games

    2) Kevin Lowe and Steve Tambellini are inept at their jobs (if you find that the acquisition of another RW in Erik Cole problematic in that the problem was never solved… or how about the 3-goalies eating up roster spots… and hovering dangerously near the 50-contract-mark)

    3) Both MacTavish and his GM bosses are inept at their jobs

    Considering all the evidence I’ve waded through, option #1 is entirely false. This Oilers team in the off-season was all hype and excitement built around Erik Cole and Lubomir Visnosky. Their acquisitions glossed over the fact that Gilbert Brule was not ready to make the team, and the subsequent conclusion that while we received two big name players we didn’t fill the holes for all the other players we lost.

    Basically, Craig MacTavish never had a chance.

    Unable to keep the fans happy (would the real “Kid Line” please stand up?), unable to keep his bosses happy (turns out Erik Cole can’t play on the LW, who woulda thunkit?), and unable to keep his goalies happy (who wants to share the crease with 2 other guys anyway?). Considering one of DesLauriers and Roloson will have to go eventually, MacTavish might’ve been forced to put them in some games so that the GM could evaluate them or so that other scouts could gauge their usefulness in a potential trade.

    If we were to fire Craig MacTavish, I would only agree with it under these circumstances:

    1) After Steve Tambellini makes his “first major trade” I would like to see if Craig MacTavish can turn this team around once he has all the “right pieces in play”
    2) Take Kevin Lowe, Steve Tambellini, and the whole shadow administration with you: I’m sick of their shady “Power Triangle” and inability to pull off major trades when this team really needs them to fix something
    3) The Oilers hire Pat Quinn and name Don Cherry coach (no, never mind I take it back)

    Other than those scenarios, it would not be fair to fire Craig MacTavish for Kevin Lowe’s inadequacies. I’m sorry to say that Brian Burke is looking more and more right about Kevin Lowe every day, and in the world of hockey, it’s the coach that always gets the axe first for someone else’s inadequacies.

    Even the legendary Scotty Bowman had a losing record within the first 4 years of coaching. Craig MacTavish is not Scotty Bowman and this Oilers team is nowhere close to the St. Louis Blues 60s expansion team or the Montreal Canadiens of the 1970s in skill, speed, or pluck.

    Basically, Craig MacTavish never had a chance.


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2004-05_Edmonton_Oilers_season (NHL Lockout)
    Mean Coach Tenure Link 1
    Mean Coach Tenure Link 2
    Lowetide Post on Lowe's Trades Here
    Lowetide Comments Section Link Here

    Please comment.

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    Monday, November 17, 2008

    Conklin Shuts Out Decrepit Oilers 4-0

    I'm so disappointed after this game I don't know what to say. I haven't felt this way about our Oilers since we went on that crazy post-Smyth-trade winless streak.

    Oil Country is hurting and hurting bad.

    More later tonight when I can form coherent sentences without f-words in them.

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    Clogging up the ice -- an NHL directive; Gameday: Oilers @ Red Wings

    Oil Droppings: Clogging up the ice -- an NHL directive

    An insightful post by Bruce.

    It's time for the Stortini to take a step up and exert his physical play on the Detroit Red Wings. Yes, you Stortini.

    Boulerice wasn't particularly effective against Colorado the other night, but then again, he didn't exactly play a whole lot of minutes either. He looked good with Stortini but I would bet Stortini would still continue to play well without him in the lineup - the Red Wings don't have and don't need an enforcer and Boulerice has demonstrated in the past that he doesn't know how to throw a bodycheck so he will be useless against the wings. Stortini forechecks and backchecks and has decent footspeed so I expect Brodziak will draw into the lineup.

    Tonight the ability to roll 4 lines will be key to not being tired out by a relentless Red Wings team that dosen't take the pedal off the metal. The Red Wigns can easily roll 4 lines every night - 4 effective lines the Oilers will have to neutralize.

    That being said, we usually lose stinkers to teams like Toronto but for some reason we always perform well in contests against the Red Wings and Rangers... of all teams. I expect it to be a close game but I can't guarantee that I feel good about our chances of winning.

    We'll have to see.

    If the hockey gods are on his side, Stortini will score a goal tonight. Another guy I will be watching is Liam Reddox, to see if he will keep bringing the blood and vinegar to the lineup.

    Ty Conklin starts for Detroit and Dwayne Roloson for Edmonton.

    Sunday, November 16, 2008

    Reddox Scores but Oilers Lose in Shootout

    I've been saying it since training camp: Liam Reddox is MacT's favorite kind of player. He plays hard, kills penalties, and gives it blood and vinegar on every shift. Most importantly, he scored his 1st NHL goal in his 2nd NHL game and in his first appearence this season. A real keeper this Reddox is.

    Darcy Tucker, put the game away in the shootout. Which makes me wonder: why didn't Pisani or Cogliano shoot, two guys who are good at shootouts? Did MacTavish miss the WJC Final Gold Metal Game where Cogliano and Toews exchanged key shootout goals for Canada?

    I made some post-game hockey grades for David Staples from Cult of Hockey; if you haven't read his blog check out the class act here.

    Shout out to Marion Flores: your YouTube link on Conan O'Brien is gaining attention.

    Here is the blog post I wrote and the subsequent grades:

    Simply put, the Oilers need more out of their big name players who are not playing up to par in meaningful games, especially those within the division. Shawn Horcoff, Erik Cole, and Lubomir Visnovsky let us down tonight. Though Shawn Horcoff played an important role in the first PP goal by Nilsson, his repeated inability in the second half of the game to deliver on key defensive plays was the not what you expect from an assisant captain.

    Both Erik Cole and Ethan Moreau were a step behind tonight though they made up for it with their gutsy play along the boards and in the corner and it rubbed off on the youngster Liam Reddox, who played outstanding for his 2nd NHL game. Could get more looks from MacTavish with this kind of effort.

    The lack of scoring in terms of security insurance goals is almost as disappointing as our inability to play a complete defensive team game in locking down a near-to-guaranteed win. I don't understand why Boulerice drew in for Brodziak, whose prowess in the faceoff circle would've been important in taking the pressure off of other centerman. He seemed to click with Stortini though and it would be interesting to see how they perform with more ice time.

    Hemsky was still flying but there were no results. If Cogliano or Brodziak were given a chance with Hemsky things could get more interesting.

    Anyways, I feel bad for Roloson who played solid enough to win but the team definitely let him down tonight, which was a lesson we should have learned after hanging Jeff Drouin-DesLauriers out to dry against Toronto.

    Oilers should either stick with Roloson or give Garon a week's worth of games from now on forwards because our goaltenders are not getting the support to win games and perhaps it would make more sense to let one of the struggling goalies play themselves out of the funk. Roloson looks ready to play so its up to DesLauriers to prove his early 3-0 start was not a fluke, and its up to Garon to prove he deserves a contract extension.

    The scoring system is as follows: 10, perfect game; 9, extraordinary game; 8, great game; 7, good game; 6, above average game; 5, average game; 4, below average game; 3, bad game; 2, terrible game; 1, trade this player or send him to the minors.

    Ales Hemsky 6

    Looked smooth and decisive out on the ice. Made Moreau and Gagner look a lot better than they actually played. Despite not lighting it up on the scoreboard, was surprisingly sound witht respect to Moreau and Gagner.

    Andrew Cogliano 6

    Was not particularly noticable in the first but as the game wore on the opposite was the case as he showed how relentless he can be at flushing out opposition D on the PK and how useful he can be at setting guys up on the PP, as he did on Reddox's first NHL goal. Was involved in a few odd-man rushes and looked dangerous for the last two thirds of the game.

    Erik Cole 4

    Played as he always does, with no holds barred and with no regrets. Laid the hurt on opposition defensemen whenever he had a chance and was a good influence on the young Liam Reddox. Looked a step behind for most of the night but played hard anyway. Needs to show more and take the shots he has the chances to take.

    Ethan Moreau 4

    Was a good complement to Hemsky as a net crasher but was a step behind all night. Was surprised by his inability to get the puck out of danger in some defensive zone situations. As hard nosed hockey is his bread and butter he looked a step behind tonight but was luckily he played well enough to not turn it into an offensive chance for the Avs.

    Fernando Pisani 5

    Was playing like a man on fire all night. Went to the net hard and utilized his linemates effecitvely. Wasn't afraid to sniff for rebounds. Almost scored late in the first period but hit a crossbar. Was reliable on the PK, as always, but should've shot in the SO instead of MAP.

    Jesse Boulerice 5

    Looked good on a line with Pouliot and Stortini and impressed me with passing skills I didn't know he had as he almost set up Stortini for a one-timer that was blocked by a defenseman. Needs to be careful about trying to lay big hits: he almost took out Stortini on a particular play in the second period. Didn't see a lot of ice time which limited his impact.

    Liam Reddox 7

    Played with blood and vinegar and lots of energy. Not a bad outing in his 2nd NHL game. Wasn't scared to sniff for pucks in front of the net or along the boards and fit in well with Erik Cole's crash and bang style. Quick foot speed and forces turnovers. Useful on the PK and didn't waste any time leaving his impression as a MacT style of player, as evidenced by covering a badly-timed Staois pinch at one point in the second period. His 1st NHL goal may mean that Dustin Penner might be sitting in the PB a little longer.

    Marc-Antoine Pouliot 5

    Starting to get rid of the hesitation that is associated with being a younger player. Not particularly effective offensively, but didn't hurt the team defensively. Was the defensively reliable part of a goon line that feature Stortini and Boulerice. Looked lost on the PP. It wasn't Pouliot's fault that MacT put him out on the shootout when there were a lot of better options available... like Pisani...

    Robert Nilsson 6

    Great goal on the PP by Bobby Nilsson. He's decided to do a bit of sniffing around in the area in front of the net, which obviously paid dividends. Very elusive when retreaving pucks along the boards and looks like a mini Smyth at times. Good backchecking again. Needs to work on his shootout moves.

    Sam Gagner 4

    His forced passes don't convince me that he's the "calm and composed" mature player that everyone is convinced that he is. Could easily dump the puck in on some plays and have Hemsky or Moreau retrieve but chooses to use a lot of dangerous little passes near the opposition blue line that have resulted in bad turnovers. MacT needs to hammer home the message that he needs to make smarter plays: be creative when you need to be creative, but on the powerplay, shoot it when you get the chance. Glad to see him converting in the SO.

    Shawn Horcoff 4

    Good quick pass to Gilbert that set up the Nilsson goal. Horcoff was on his game tonight for the first half and it showed as he was drawing penalties and forcing guys to chase him. However, his continuing inability to win key faceoffs (such as on the Avs tying goal late in the third where he lost the draw to Hejduk of all people) come at markedly bad times for the Oilers. His strong play on the PK allowed the Oilers to make up for that allowing the tying goal in OT, but did not make up for his inability to secure an insurance goal on the empty net which is something that needs to go in to end the Avs chances of coming back in the shootout. Could easily say he cost us the game and needs to start playing a full 60 minutes. The Horcoff from the first half was not the same Horcoff from the second half and is consistency is key from an assistant captain who is supposed to show leadership.

    Zack Stortini 5

    Played hard and didn't take no for an answer as he crashed the net sniffing for rebounds. Deserves a look on a line with some skilled players to see what he could do as a complement to a Nilsson or Horcoff. Limited ice time limits his ability to make an impact.

    Sheldon Souray 5

    Souray needs to move the puck a bit faster. He has been playing relatively solid but if he could utilize Visnovsky a bit mroe it would make outletting the puck a lot easier for the D core top unit. Needs to stop overcommitting as he got exposed by Marek Svatos.

    Lubomir Visnovsky 3

    Mr. Lube was pretty shake tonight and was involved with a few questionable outlet passes. It was good to see that, like other times during this season so far, he was willing to take hits to make the play, but it perhaps there's a bit of lag from the road trip. Anyways he is afflicted by the same problem as Souray: it would be nice to see him utilize Souray a bit more during outletting the puck. Bad choices in terms of shots and passes tonight. Could use a bit of patience in his play.

    Tom Gilbert 7

    Surprising that Gilbert doesn't get more looks on the PP. His ability to stay relatively open on the point and his reluctance to pinch at bad times is what allowed this PP to click early on this night. Good defensive awareness tonight, and I wish he would've played more minutes.

    Denis Grebeshkov 5

    Good quick passes to his defensive partner (Gilbert) and generally when leaving the zone. Wasn't a powerhouse offensively or defensively but did all the smart things well. Lucky for him, Gilbert covered some of his defensive gaffes tonight.

    Jason Strudwick 6

    Good positioning and generally reliable overall tonight. Was relaible on the PK.

    Steve Staios 5

    Staios was truly steady tonight. Looked good with Strudwick.

    Dwayne Roloson 5

    He worked hard communicating with his D core and with his forwards. Looked unsure playing the puck tonight but was generally pretty good on rebound control. Almost got exposed by some great passing by the Colorado squad. The Oilers played well for him but the squad was unable to get some security goals when they needed it and that cost Roloson his strong play tonight.

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    Friday, November 14, 2008

    Oiler Fans @ Conan O'Brien

    Hilar. Watch and Enjoy.

    Submitted by Marion Flores.

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    Thursday, November 13, 2008

    Burke Out; Huggy Bear Stortini; JDD Shootout Montage

    Brian Burke is out. Murray is in. Cue the Burke rumours commence and let the era of Anaheim's healing begin.

    Hopefully Brian Burke doesn't go and mess up the good thing that Fletcher and Wilson have got going in LeafLand.

    To be honest I think Toronto will be better off without Burke and with a new direction. Maybe a Neil Smith kind of figure, or perhaps a transition period until someone will step in and take over from a transition line.

    Maybe Fletcher -> Smith -> and the return of Pat Quinn?

    Pat Quinn > Brian Burke in my opinion.


    Stortini a Good Fit for Edmonton

    I was going through some old fight vids and I'm starting to wonder why so many people make fun of Stortini's "huggy bear" fighting style.

    Take for instance, the YouTube video of the fight between former NHL player and veteran tough guy Bob Probert and his strategy for dealing with guys tougher than himself, such as Georges Laraque. Sometimes moral victories don't involve landing all the haymakers. Sometimes, it's about hanging in there and showing your enemies and rivals that you're not going to take anything from them lying down.

    Just because Stortini's not a heavyweight doesn't mean he's not a smart and effective fighter. In fact, his style has allowed him to avoid the kind of injuries and suspensions that often surround the careers of other grease guys.

    Zack Stortini is a good guy to have around because he sticks up for his teammates even though he's getting his ass beat by the Boogaards and Orrs out there every night. How many friends do you have that would go out and volunteer to take a beating for you?

    How many hands went up? None?

    He does a lot of goonish things on the ice but that's only because he's doing it out of the love of the team. Having guys like Boulerice and MacIntyre around are important because it allows us to appreciate all the other things that Zack Stortini does well: forecheck hard, throw big checks, play energy shifts (remember the Glencross-Brodziak-Stortini line?) and kill the occasional penalty.

    When we have an established tough guy in Edmonton, most likely MacIntyre and not Boulerice, Stortini will not suddenly become a trading block commodity: no, rather, he will become even more important as a Sean Avery, Jarkko Ruutu, or Ian Laperriere type of player.

    Boulerice and MacIntyre are also noted to be good team guys in the locker room, who seem to feel a sort of protector's conscience over his fellow teammates.

    Yeah, Boulerice has been a goon in the past. But the reason Boulerice is a MacT kind of player and why he's popular with coaches such as Peter Laviolette, as suggested in the YouTube video, is his team ethic.

    But why all this credit for MacIntyre and Boulerice when Stortini's been doing it for his Oiler teammates for years?

    Zack Stortini has been taking crap for the team and his teammates for a few years now and shame on anyone who has been lining up to buy him a ticket out of town. He's still light years ahead of Steve MacIntyre and Jesse Boulerice in the dept. of non-fighting skills and smarts, and he shows the wisdom of a Bob Probert at a much younger age. With more experience, he could probably use his 6-3 216 lbs frame much more effectively.

    It is my hope that when a real tough gets established in Edmonton, Steve MacIntyre, Jesse Boulerice, or otherwise, that Zack Stortini will stay on and become one of the Todd Harvey, Rem Murray, or Kirk Maltby checking line type of guys on our Oiler team: guys who won't hurt your defense, offense, or team toughness. Guys who will go out and block a shot, kill a penalty, and fight, on occasion.

    Being able to go into the ring with guys like Jim Vandermeer and Eric Godard only to come out with his skin intact doesn't hurt his chances, either.

    I'm a Stortini fan.


    JDD's My Hero

    For those of you who missed it, here's the entire shootout session of the Oilers win over the New York Rangers, the tops in the Eastern Conference. Jeff Drouin-DesLauriers was the undisputed hero of this game.

    Watch and enjoy.

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    Wednesday, November 12, 2008

    Thoresen Update

    Patrick Thoresen has awoken and he's living large.

    He's ripping it up on the Swiss Nationalliga team HC Lugano.


    Tuesday, November 11, 2008

    "C" Trade Bait

    Oilers still need a 3rd line center. Lowetide suggests that it should be a veteran right-handed centerman. At this point in the season with our PK still mediocre, I would suggest any available centerman with experience in a checking role (winning key faceoffs) would be a good pickup.

    Steve Begin is a new addition to the list. He's been a healthy scratch in Montreal and doing the math he seems to be the odd-man out right now.

    Another new addition is someone we're familiar with: Marty Reasoner. He only signed a one-year deal with Atlanta so he's probably available too, unless Atlanta is serious about making a run at the playoffs this year.

    The case is the same with Todd Marchant and Mike Peca, who has one year left on his contract - though they would predictably be in the same price range as Madden and Holik. The reason I like Sami Pahlsson is his relentless forecheck and his crash'n'bang style similar to that of Raffi Torres. He can, however, win faceoffs, which is key.

    There's always the Brian Burke factor, but I'm sure Tambellini can get past that whole Lowe vs. Burke thing.

    However, I think it's simply not good enough to acquire one for this season. I think Tambellini needs to find the best possible fit, and then resign them for a medium-to-long term deal that ensures we have a centerman on the 3rd line for some time to come. That's why for this particular transaction, I would quality over quantity, though getting your bang-for-buck is still important.

    Here's my updated wishlist:

    1. John Madden, New Jersey Devils, Pending UFA, LH
    Approx. Salary : 3 million/yr
    How much to resign? : 3 - 4 million/yr
    Is he worth it : Yes

    2. Scott Nichol, Nashville Predators, Pending UFA, RH
    Approx. Salary : 0.750 million/yr
    How much to resign? : 0.75 - 1.5 million/yr
    Is he worth it : Yes

    3. Mike Peca, Columbus Blue Jackets, Pending UFA, RH
    Approx. Salary : 1.3 million/yr
    How much to resign? : 1.5 - 2.5 million/yr
    Is he worth it : Yes

    4. Steve Begin, Montreal Canadiens, Pending UFA, LH
    Approx. Salary : 1 million/yr
    How much to resign? : 1 - 2 million/yr
    Is he worth it : Yes

    5. Sami Pahlsson, Anaheim Ducks, Pending UFA, LH
    Approx. Salary : 1.4 million/yr
    How much to resign? : 2 - 4 million/yr
    Is he worth it : Maybe

    6. Marty Reasoner, Atlanta Thrashers, Pending UFA, LH
    Approx. Salary : 1 million/yr
    How much to resign? : 1 - 2 million/yr
    Is he worth it : Yes

    7. Mark Smith, UFA, LH
    Approx. Salary : ?
    How much to sign? : 0.5 - 2 million/yr
    Is he worth it : Yes

    8. Bobby Holik, New Jersey Devils, Pending UFA, RH (currently injured)
    Approx. Salary : 2.5 million/yr
    How much to resign? : 2 - 3 million/yr
    Is he worth it : No, but he's a better option than Pouliot

    9. Todd Marchant, Anaheim Ducks, Pending UFA, LH
    Approx. Salary : 2.5 million/yr
    How much to resign? : 2 - 4 million/yr
    Is he worth it : No, but he's a better option than Pouliot

    10. Stephane Yelle, Boston Bruins, Pending UFA, LH
    Approx. Salary : 0.750 million/yr
    How much to resign? : 0.75 - 1.5 million/yr
    Is he worth it : Yes

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